The Odyssey looked a bit different from the last time I was there, last June to get my Bill Gates Mind Control Jab.
No more emergency beds, no registration desks, no cubicles. no Doctors.
Well, there was one Doctor. Doctor Brian May. More on him later.
Just a reminder, that just because normality has resumed, Covid hasn’t gone away. It’s just that your Government has stopped pretending to give a shit. Try not to be thick as shit when going about your everyday business.
For me, it would be my first trip to The Odyssey in three and a half years, since I went to see U2 in October 2018.
Might as well put it out there, I love Queen. I really really really love Queen.
How could you not?
I first got into Queen under tragic circumstances. When I was in Primary School, Freddie Mercury died. The story was all over the news for a long time, and I was exposed to the music of Queen through news reports.
My Uncle copied me a cassette of Greatest Hits I, and I think I listened to my brother’s copy of Greatest Hits II and I was mesmerised by the sound of this band.
You listen to Greatest Hits I, and then you realise there is another album of bangers to cover the decade after that.
Then you listen to Greatest Hits II, and you realise there is an album of bangers that preceded it.
Most bands would take just one Greatest Hits album of that quality, never mind two.
Greatest Hits III, a mop-up album featuring solo hits, singles from Made In Heaven, the album Freddie was working on at the time of his death, songs left off Greatest Hits I and Greatest Hits II, solo hits and a couple of remixes, even has some great moments such as Let Me Live, Las Palabras De Amor and Princes Of The Universe.
I consider myself to be a fully qualified Queenologist. Obviously, there are more qualified than me, but I can hold my own in this field.
Put it this way, I have watched a lot of documentaries (of which there has been a lot) and concert films (again, of which i’ve seen a lot)
I have tried to watch Bohemian Rhapsody but only end up pointing out the factual and chronological inaccuracies, of which there are a lot.
I listened to Queen when was 17, drinking beer I bought with a fake ID under the name of Brian McGee.
Actually, that was Homer Simpson.
The most tenuous link I have to Queen is that I once walked past Brian May’s wife’s TV Husband.
Brian May was in Edinburgh at the same time as me in August 2018 when he appeared at Edinburgh Book Festival while I was at Edinburgh Fringe.
I was tempted to see his show, but it wasn’t actually about Queen, it was about Stereoscopic Photography.
Appearing alongside him was Roger Taylor. Not that one though, this one is a Historian.
I could have stalked him for an autograph if I wanted, but I decided i’d rather go and experience Edinburgh Fringe.
This would be my first time seeing Queen in any shape or form.
Obviously, I was far too young to go when Freddie Mercury was strutting his stuff in stage.
Even if I was old enough to go and see them, they never came to Belfast anyway.
It was 2005 before they did, with Paul Rodgers on vocals. It didn’t really interest me.
By 2017, Adam Lambert was now vocals and I was tempted to go, but tickets costing £74 put me off.
For that money, i’d be expecting Freddie Mercury and John Deacon on stage, and then David Bowie to join them for Under Pressure.
I’m not sure what has happened in the five years since, but that price has now risen to £91 (£84 plus £7 Booking Fee)
Far too much.
I’m not even sure how The Odyssey can justify that Booking Fee. I recently bought tickets for The Limelight with a £3 Booking Fee (pre Covid figure as well) and a Campaign Card for Northern Ireland matches has a £5 Booking Fee, but that is for nine matches.
All three venues use Ticketmaster, so why is The Odyssey so expensive?
Luckily for me, I had a Ticketmaster voucher, so this was going to be subsidised. I wouldn’t have went if it wasn’t.
For Queen and Adam Lambert, this would be a return to where it all began, as it was here at the MTV EMAs in 2011 that they first performed together.
The start time was 8pm, meaning a bit of a dash from work to home to get fed and ready before heading back out.
As it turned out, I could have left a little later.
8pm came and they weren’t on stage.
The crowd started to get restless but found ways to occupy themselves.
First with a Mexican Wave and then by stomping their feet and chanting “WE WANT QUEEN!!!!” to the tune of We Will Rock You.
Eventually, around 8.15pm, a gothic orchestral version of Innuendo (with a Kashmir by Led Zeppelin vibe) was played over the stereo, signifying that there were about the come on stage.
We were all hoping it would be worth the wait. For some of us, we’d been waiting all our lives for this, another fifteen minutes wouldn’t hurt.
Adam Lambert has some balls taking on this gig. You can fail spectacularly when you replace a legend. Just ask David Moyes.
Curiously, Adam Lambert is now older (40) than Freddie Mercury was (39) the last time he performed with Queen.
He isn’t as good as Freddie Mercury, who is, but he is very good. That’s all you really ask for and hope for, that he can stand up on his own right as a singer.
You know you’re not going to get Freddie Mercury, but you will get the songs given a new lease of life.
I’m not even sure Queen need a singer. Just let Brian and Roger play and the crowd will just sign along.
Now that he is here, he started off with Now I’m Here, a deviation from beginning with We Will Rock You as they did in the 1980s.
Naturally, you would be expecting to hear hits, and Queen had a lot of hits.
That is what we got, as well as some album tracks that have become live favourites.
Time was of the essence, there was quite a lot to fit in.
Now I’m Here was followed by Tear It Up (from The Works, should have been a single), Keep Yourself Alive, Hammer To Fall, Somebody To Love and then Don’t Stop Me Now.
In order to facilitate Adam’s various costume changes, Brian and Roger sang a few songs as well.
The first of those was the much maligned (it was even a punchline in the Bohemian Rhapsody film) Roger sung I’m In Love With My Car.
That was the set-up for a succession of vehicular themed songs as Adam Lambert reappeared on a motorbike with the reg plate QAL (of course) to sing Bicycle Race (I know, he should have been on a bicycle)
I’m quite glad I didn’t go past Brian, Roger and Adam when out for a cycle on Saturday or Sunday because I definitely would have embarrassed myself by singing it at them.
Then of course, Fat Bottomed Girls, because fat bottomed girls will be riding their bikes.
I was expecting Crazy Little Thing Called Love to follow, because Ready Freddie like to take a long ride on his motorbike.
Nope, up next was Another One Bites The Dust and I Want It All before we eventually got Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
He couldn’t be there in person, for obvious reasons, but thanks to the magic of technology, Freddie Mercury made an appearance.
During a performance of Love Of My Life with Brian on vocals, it became a duet when Freddie joined him for the last verse via video screen, to rapturous applause.
It was then Roger’s turn for some vocals, stepping out from behind his drumkit to sing These Are The Days Of Our Lives.
Roger was again on vocal duties to take on the David Bowie role on Under Pressure, which was dedicated to Taylor Hawkins.
More hits followed such as A Kind Of Magic, I Want To Break Free and Who Wants To Live Forever?
During the performance of I Want To Break Free, Adam Lambert began laughing and forgot his lines after climbing onto Spike Edney’s piano to serenade him.
Unfortunately, Edney was too professional and focused to even notice, ignoring Lambert and prompting a fit of laughter from him.
And more hits followed, The Show Must Go On, Radio Ga Ga and Bohemian Rhapsody.
Naturally, there was mass headbanging, but between you and me, the best bit in that song is the “So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye, so you think you can love me and leave me to die” bit just after the headbangy bit.
Freddie Mercury once again made an appearance on the screens, serenading the crowd with his “Ay-oh” vocal routine.
Time for the encore, and more hits to follow, saving We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions for the end.
They said they would rock us, and they most definitely did.
It might seem petty to complain about songs not played, but with so many hits to choose from, that was always going to happen.
Overall, they were fantastic. It might not have been Proper Queen, but it’s as good as i’m going to get.
Whenever you watch a concert film on Sky Arts, it makes me wish I had seen them with Freddie Mercury, especially the 1975 Christmas Special.
It wasn’t all perfect.
It took me an hour to get out of the car park. What an absolute fucking shambles.
I took the car as the last train home in my direction was 10.57pm. I had no chance of making it.
Every other time I had been to The Odyssey, you give £3 to someone at the barrier and go.
That is not the case any more. It was a good job I asked before getting in my car.
Apparently, it is now cashless as this is more convenient. Not sure where the convenience is.
I had to pay at the machine which charged me an hourly rate instead of a flat fee.
Then, when I got in my car, it just sat there. Not moving for long periods.
Eventually, when I reached the barrier, I handed it to the Attendant who scanned my ticket, which was rejected and he had to phone a colleague to get the barrier lifted.
The same thing happened to the car in front of me. I doubt we were the only ones to experience this fate.
What a fucking shambles, I would have been quicker walking home.
Genuinely surprised I wasn’t charged for the hour I spent trying to get out of the place.
You can’t say it was due to the volume of cars. The Odyssey has been open for 21 and a half years. They should know how to manage traffic at events by now.
Curiously, two days later, I was at a Car Boot Sale and someone had a box of Queen VHS tapes for sale, some of which I had never seen. If only I had the space in my house.
In other news, i’ve got a ticket to see Paul Weller in October, meaning it will be the third of three successive Wednesday night concerts after George Ezra and Beabadoobee.
And finally, a shout out to Andrew Fletcher from Depeche Mode who died the night before this concert. They had some smashing tunes.
Really sad that I never got to see them at The Odyssey in 2013.